The Dutch government must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% by 2020 compared with 1990, a court in The Hague ruled on Wednesday.
The landmark legal case was brought by 886 Dutch citizens who said the government is not doing enough to avoid climate change.
The court ruled the government has duty of care and cannot hide behind claims that the Netherlands is a small part of a worldwide process. The Netherlands is on target to reduce emissions by 17% by 2020.
‘The state must do more to avert the imminent danger caused by climate change, also in view of its duty of care to protect and improve the living environment,’ the court said. ‘Moreover, the costs of the measures ordered by the court are not unacceptably high.’
‘The state should not hide behind the argument that the solution to the global climate problem does not depend solely on Dutch efforts,’ the court statement continued. ‘Any reduction of emissions contributes to the prevention of dangerous climate change and as a developed country the Netherlands should take the lead in this.’
‘This is what we had hoped for,’ Marjan Minnesma of the Urgenda foundation said after the verdict. The ruling also means people all over the world can take legal action against their states for not combating climate change, she said.
The Urgenda foundation says this is the first case in Europe in which citizens are attempting to hold the state responsible for not acting fast enough to reduce greenhouse gases and curb the rise in global temperatures.
The case was first initiated in November 2012 and almost 900 people agreed to join forces as co-plaintiffs.
The 25% to 40% reduction is the target developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The reduction is needed to create a 50% chance of avoiding a dangerous 2 Celsius rise in global temperatures, the IPCC agreed.
Some 24% of the Netherlands is below sea level.
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